Forget broken records, the Waratahs’ vinyl has been blown into smithereens this season, after another sluggish start and poor defence condemned them to a 40-27 loss to the Jaguares.
For all the talk of regeneration and desperation to finish on a high, the Waratahs mustered little early against the Jaguares on Saturday night, down a 22-point hole in the first half hour.
Ten of those first half came in just the opening six minutes, with the Jaguares piling on a penalty and Pablo Matera try before the Waratahs realised what was happening.
That wasn’t the end of the Jaguares flurry, a missed Dean Mumm tackle left Sanchez to run into open space, offloading to Matias Orlando for a second five-pointer.
Hooker Damien Fitzpatrick made the most of his starting shot, elevated after the late withdrawal of Tolu Latu this week, threatening in attack and providing a rare spark for the Waratahs.
Where they were enemies of their own making, luck didn’t turn their way either in that Jaguares’ domination, with Ned Hanigan yellow-carded after striking Pablo Matera, a penalty arguably worsened by Matera’s dramatic fall.
The Jaguares used their antagonistic play to their advantage against an increasingly frustrated NSW outfit on the verge of another binning, pulled into scuffle after scuffle.
Benjamin Macome earned the latest reward after that, with the third Jaguares try and a whopping 25 points in the first half hour.
It took 36 minutes for the Waratahs to cross, with Israel Folau continuing a recently adopted habit of collecting Bernard Foley cross-field kicks to narrow the margin to 15.
Then the wheel of fortune turned dramatically NSW’s way, with both Jaguares locks yellow carded just before the break, gifting the Waratahs a chance to score, but they couldn’t crack the line.
Foley, though, found the line twice in five minutes after half-time, negating the hole the Waratahs had dug for themselves and making things a one-point game with 35 minutes left, before a Jaguares reply kept them at arm’s length.
Another Jaguares penalty coupled with a Matias Moroni try handed the Jaguares their highest tally outside of Buenos Aires, with 13 minutes to spare.
The loss means the Waratahs have been defeated by every team in the Africa 2 conference, losing to the Sharks, Lions, Kings and Jaguares, giving the Argentinians their first away win since round one.
They couldn’t make it through injury-free either, with Bryce Hegarty lasting just half an hour before suffering a hamstring injury.
NSW heads to Perth next week, facing what is sure to be an incredibly dangerous Force team high on emotion, with everything to play for.
Tries: Foley 2, Folau
Cons: Foley 3
Pens: Foley 2
Yellow card: Hanigan (29’)
Tries: Matera, Orlando, Marcome, Creevy, Moroni
Pens: Sanchez 2
Yellow card: Petti (39’), Macome (40')